May 24, 2008–The UNLV Lady Rebels kind of came from nowhere this year to end up qualifying for the NCAA Finals, and then finishing an all-time best 16th place in the event that was marred by extreme weather conditions. It was the third appearance for the Lady Rebels in the NCAA Finals, but the first for each of the players on the 2007-08 team. The Rebels overcame a devastating first-round score to play very solid the rest of the way and finish in the top 20 for the first time ever. “I am very proud of what this team was able to accomplish at the end of the season,” UNLV head coach Missy Ringler said. “The girls held it together in very tough conditions. It makes me excited for the future of our program.” Four of the Rebels in this event return for next year and a solid recruiting class is on the way so the future is, indeed, bright for Lady Rebel golf. Golfweek writer Lance Ringler, star of Off Campus at Golfweektv.com, says the incoming Rebel recruits are stellar and include Kristen Schelling from Arizona, ranked #22 in her class, along with the two best players from the state of Nevada, Bethany Glassford and Stephanie Whatley, who are Southern Nevada residents.
UNLV freshman and Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year Therese Koelbaek (pictured) led the Rebels as she finished in 34th, just the fifth Rebel in history to land in the top 40 of the NCAA Finals. This was the third NCAA appearance for the Rebels in the seven-year history of the program, and UNLV finished 21st in 2004 and 22nd in 2006. Unlike those two years, this team battled adverse conditions all week long, including severe wins that postponed round two, and lightning that delayed yesterday’s third round. The event was played at the Championship Course at the University of New Mexico, site of the UNLV Men's Golf 1998 National Championship.
UNLV carded a four-round total of 1,223 (314-297-304-308, +71), and all five players in the lineup, which featured two freshmen and a sophomore, were making their first NCAA tournament appearance.
USC won the team title with a score of 1,168 (+16), beating UCLA by six strokes to take home top team honors. Azahara Munoz of Arizona State defeated Tiffany Joh of UCLA in a playoff to earn medalist honors, as both players had 54-hole totals of 287 (-1).
UNLV freshman Therese Koelbaek finished tied for 34th with a four-round score of 12-over 300 (75-76-74-75), as she shot a three-over 75 on Friday to post four-straight scores of 76 or lower. Four strokes behind was sophomore Natasha Krishna, who tied for 54th with a score of 304 (+16), and she shot a 78 (+6) during today’s final round.
Rebel rookie Alejandra Guacaneme (78-73-80-80—311, +23) and Tonya Choate (81-74-78-78—311, +23) tied for 85th and Kasi Lee (83-83-83-77—326, +38) came in 121st. Choate, who is a senior that transferred to UNLV last fall, is the only Rebel who will not return next season.